Pink Implosion

Pink Implosion

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m feeling a little schadenfreude about the implosion of the Susan G Komen Foundation.  And I truly believe it’s only a matter of when.  For me, the tipping point was Buckets for a Cure.  I attended my first Race for the Cure(TM) in 2008, just weeks after my diagnosis and days after my first chemotherapy. I found it tremendously helpful to see to many survivors there, a morale boost to indicate to me that I could indeed join their ranks.  The following year, I had a team and raised significant money.

After the bustle of treatment ended, I began reading more and started to become tentatively critical of the organization.  In April of 2010, this campaign pushed me over the edge. The What the Cluck campaign brought me to Breast Cancer Action, where I “came out” as a critic of the organization.  I found out I wasn’t alone and made some great friends all over the world.  We have collaborated on this issue, although it has at times seemed to be a Sisyphean Task.

Also Read: The Faces of ChildrenSometimes awareness is a good thing

I see now that we were drops in the ocean, and many connected to breast cancer began to coalesce.  But the Planned Parenthood flap was a tidal wave, and suddenly people were paying attention.  Every chance I got, I pointed people to Rachel Cheetham Moro’s seminal post examining the financials of Komen.  Finally, we were getting through.

And now the movie – Pink Ribbons Inc.  (see trailer below).  And today, an article from Salon that could have come from any one of us a few years ago.  This article brought to my attention by my sister-in-law (a Komen supporter whose mother died of breast cancer), was written by Mary Elizabeth Williams.

Reducing breast cancer – a complex disease with different manifestations – into a single entity for which there could be a single, magic bullet “cure” may sell T-shirts and mammogram machines. But it doesn’t begin to address the insidiously complicated nature of cancer or why it strikes women in the first place. Yet there’s money to be made in the notion of a “cure” – a slippery word you will be hard pressed to find anyone in the world of cancer treatment ever using. But “Race for the No Evidence of Disease” just doesn’t have the same easy ring to it. Nor does the expensive, unsexy environmental and social change required to identify and eliminate the roots of cancer.

I admit it.  I did a little cheer.  But the reality wasn’t far behind.  First of all, when Komen collapses, we need to have alternatives, and try like hell to hang on to the general public’s goodwill toward our cause, goodwill that Komen has exploited and squandered.  Second, and most bitterly, just like Komen’s rise didn’t cure breast cancer, neither will its demise.  The cruelest irony is that in the midst of the Komen collapse, Rachel, one of the leaders in critiquing the organization, was in a hospital dying.  We must never forget:  Bringing down Komen is NOT the goal.  Eradicating this devastating and sometimes fatal disease is the only acceptable outcome.